Teams seeking the F6 berths in Group A will clash in games of outstanding importance: if the two home sides, Primorje and Barceloneta both win, the group will be as balanced as ever. In Group B the second place is at stake when Szolnok takes on Jug.
20.00 Primorje Erste Banka Rijeka (CRO) v Olympiacos Piraeus (GRE)
The last big hurdle for Olympiacos: if the Greeks clear that they can book their ticket to Budapest for the Final Six, even a draw would help them as they enjoy a 4-point lead over the Croats and the Spaniards (Eger is already there as the host). If Primorje wins that would even the standings pretty much and if Barceloneta could also beat Eger then we would see the following line of points in the first four places: 15, 14, 14, 14…
Both sides can rely on mostly relaxed players as Spain and Croatia didn’t have to take part in the Olympic Qualification Tournament ended last week. Ironically, one of the key player of the match is a Croatian, goalie Josip Pavic who plays for the Greeks.
Theodoros Vlachos, head coach, Olympiacos:
“This is a very important game for both teams. Three rounds to go in the preliminaries so both teams need the points in order to qualify to the Final6. The team winning this game will have a clear advantage for the qualification. Primorje is strong in their home but we feel very good right now and we want to achieve our target, to be in Budapest.”
Josip Pavic, goalkeeper, Olympiacos
“We have a really good chance in Rijeka, but it’s gonna be a really-really hard game because they didn’t lose in their home for about more than three years. Still, if we play like in the first game in Piraeus we have a good chance for a good result. We are also unbeaten at the moment and I hope this will remain like that, but if not, it is not the end of the world for us. Everything depends on us and the games we have in our home.”
20.30 Barceloneta (ESP) v ZF-Eger (HUN)
Though Eger has no head-aches as they enjoy a secure place as the host of the Final Six, still, the Hungarians are determined to qualify on their own, what’s more they are seeking the top spot which would put them directly to the semis. A win in Barcelona would be a huge step, last season they also met the Spaniards and earned a 7-7 tie there.
The outcome might also be affected by the physical condition of the participants as both the Spanish and Magyar key-players went through the gruelling Olympic qualifier last week, demanding of playing 8 games in as many matches. Though both sides have delighted men on board as both national teams clinched a place in Rio. Here the pressure is on Barceloneta, a loss might end their quest in this competition.
Chus Martín, head coach of Barceloneta:
“After reaching the target with the National Team, the qualification for the Olympic Games, our players are determined and looking for reaching another important target, to get into the Final Six. Therefore this match is very important for us. Eger is a very strong team but we have three more games to go, so we depend on only ourselves. We are playing our last game at home and we hope to win the support of our fans”.
Norbert Dabrowski, head coach of ZF-Eger:
“It took a really long time while the full team came together again. I know, it’s not a good feeling to lead trainings only for 3-4 players. I was happy because the Hungarian National Team won the tournament in Trieste and the players from our team played very important roles in this victory. The others who stayed at home, trained really hard for the final part of the season. If we can unite these two groups, then we can win against the Barceloneta, which is a very good team. We need to win all of our three games in the Champions League, because our goal to gain the first place in the group.”
Peter Biros, captain of ZF-Eger:
“Our goal is to win our group! The situation is the same for both team, we already had a lot of matches in the season also. I remember when Barceloneta host the final and they won the series. Now this is our plan.”
Gergo Zalanki, player of ZF-Eger:
“I was really happy when the tournament in Trieste finished, because I was very tired. We got two free days from our coach in the club, we trained first time on Wednesday night. However, the victory makes us stronger every time. The players of Barceloneta are tired, too, and their center, Balázs Szirányi got injured in Trieste, I don’t know if he can play now or not. The victory is very important for us, because we want to be on the top of our group. Unfortunately Milos Cuk and Bálint Lőrincz can’t play against Barceloneta, but we try to complete our mission.”
19.00 Spandau 04 (GER) v Jadran Carine Herceg Novi (MNE)
Both sides look for their first win in the prelims – this is the only target as they already bowed out from the race for the F6. Most of the German team should be utterly disappointed after they missed the cut for Rio last week – seven players were involved in the battles in Trieste. Perhaps their two French players might help who managed to make it a bit surprisingly. The first match in Montenegro ended in a 9-9 draw, another even game in sight, for sure.
1. Olympiacos 15, 2. Eger 14, 3. Barceloneta 11, 4. Primorje 11, 5. Spandau 3, 6. Jadran 2
18.30 Szolnoki Dozsa-Kozgep (HUN) v Jug Croatia Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO)
The last big game in the group involving two of the top three sides. The winner will surely secure the second place in the group, a tie would also favour Jug (if we consider that the teams win in the last two rounds which is the expected outcome). The two team produced huge clashes in last season and in this autumn as well: Jug led 9-5 before the last period but Szolnok scored four connecting goals for 9-9 but the Croats had the last laugh and won 10-9 with a goal 51 seconds from time. In the previous season it ended 13-12 in Szolnok, so stay tuned, this is going to be a tremendous match!
Sándor Cseh, head coach of Szolnok:
“We are preparing for a very serious encounter which we would like to win. We have been working very hard, we are unbeaten in our home pool in the last two years. Despite the fact that we have some injured players our only aim is to win this game. We only had two days of preparation for this game the national team members just returned from the Olympic qualifiers. Despite all the negative facts we hope it will be a great game with fantastic atmosphere created by our fans.”
Viktor Nagy, goalkeeper of Szolnok:
“We only had two days for preparation since we were in Triest last week where we played games every day. Playing against Dubrovnik is one of the hardest task in the Champions League season, but we must win.”
Vjekoslav Kobescak, head coach of Jug:
We have a very hard game in front of us, for second place in the group against fantastic team, the Hungarian champion. However, I think that this year’s Final Six will be very hard by all means so being second or third in preliminary round does not make any difference. Szolnok is well covered in all positions with Hungarian, Serbian national team players. The weak point in their game can be central defender position.”
Josip Vrlic, centre-forward of Jug:
“This is a tough match against one of favourites of this year’s competition. We need to stop their centre-forwards, also Denes Varga and Marton Vamos. In that case we can expect a positive result.”
20.30 Pro Recco (ITA) v A Hid-OSC Budapest (HUN)
Though OSC has a mathematical chance they travel to Recco without any pressure – and this makes them pretty dangerous even in the title-holders’ home. Recco can use their brilliant Serbian, Croatian and Montenegrin mix, relaxed and fit for the task to continue their quest to secure the top spot in the group – but any other result than a win would endanger this plan.
Galatasaray Istanbul (TUR) v Partizan Belgrade (SRB) 9-9
The game was played on Wednesday and ended in the thrilling draw. Visit the official page for the game report.
1. Recco 16, 2. Jug 16, 3. Szolnok 15, 4. OSC 9, 5. Partizan 7, 6. Galatasaray 1
Here the page with the results of the Champions League 2016